JOHANNESBURG, June 5 (Xinhua)-- South Africa's economy contracted by 2.2 percent in the first quarter of 2018 compared with the final quarter of last year, according to figures released by Statistics South Africa on Tuesday.
The poor performance was mainly attributed to a spectacular drop in the agricultural sector which shrank by 24.7 percent, the agency said.
Economists had expected a contraction of 0.5 percent quarter on quarter.
"The 2.2 percent fall is the largest quarter-on-quarter decline since the first quarter of 2009," said the agency.
Statistician-general Risenga Maluleke released the figures at a media briefing which also indicated that the mining sector fell by 9.9 percent; manufacturing sector fell by 6.4 percent and construction by 1.9 percent.
"South Africa is a consumption-driven economy, it is not unusual for a weak first-quarter GDP print given the high base set in the final quarter of the previous year," said FNB chief economist Mamello Matikinca.
"And one of the reasons for the extent of this weakness has been a sharp downtick in agricultural productions," he added.
Another economist, Wandile Sihlobo of Agbiz, said the negative effects of the Western Cape drought were evident in the first quarter GDP data.